Penny Overcomes a Slow Start to Stop Padres

LOS ANGELES, California-- It looked like a long afternoon for the Dodgers with Brad Penny pitching to nine Padres in the first inning and allowing four hits and three runs. But then the gears started to mesh properly and he smothered San Diego over the next five, allowing only a single. Jose Cruz and Dioner Navarro smacked back-to-back homers in the fourth inning and Los Angeles took the rubber game of the series 7-3, cutting their deficit to six with 20 games left in the season.

The win was the fourth in five games for the Dodgers, who will bang heads with Colorado, Arizona and San Francisco for the next 17 games, meeting San Diego for the final three games of the year.

It was a two-game swing for the Dodgers, trailing by six instead of eight, and the Padres dropped to .500 with the loss. The Dodgers are still 13 games below .500 with a 64-77 record.

Penny (7-9) retired the last 11 batters he faced, then turned the game over to Giovanni Carrara for two and Yhency Brazoban, who worked a shutout ninth. Penny threw 117 pitches, walked three and struck out seven.

The Dodgers fought back to score single runs in the first three innings to forge a tie. In the first Willy Aybar and Oscar Robles walked and Jeff Kent knocked in the first run with a single.

In the second. Mike Edwards was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a wild pit and scored when Penny lined a single to center. Penny was 6-for-46 with one RBI before cutting the lead to 3-2.

Former Dodger Chan Ho Park, who pitched for the Dodgers from 1994-2001, faced his old team for the first time and had little success. He left in the second with the bases loaded having thrown 44 pitches. He allowed three hits and two runs, walked two, hit two and threw a wild pitch.

Navarro doubled to right and Edwards singled to center with one out in the third, then Jayson Werth grounded a single into center to tie the game.

Scott Cassidy (0-1), who replaced Park, walked Jeff Kent with two outs in the fourth, and Cruz greeted the Padres third pitcher, Chris Hammond, with a ringing home run into the left-field bullpen, putting the Dodgers in front for the first time. It was his 16th homer and Navarro followed with his second for a 6-3 lead.

The final run of the game came in the sixth when Kent drew a two-out walk and scored on errors by shortstop Khalil Greene and third baseman Joe Randa.

Aybar, making his second consecutive start, singled twice and walked. He is now hitting an even .400. Navarro had a single, double and triple as the Dodgers banged out an even dozen hits.

Brian Myrow collected his first major league hit when he doubed in the eighth .Dioner Navarro attempted to score from first base but was thrown out at the plate.

Dodger Blue Notes--After the Dodgers' defense cost them a 3-1 game in the season series, it gave them made 91 errors in their first 137 games. A year ago, they set a franchise record and led the majors with the fewest errors (73). …Dodgers' team ERA through Sunday was 4.58. That would be the highest for a season since the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958.